England v Australia, 3rd Test, Old Trafford August 16, 2005

McGrath believes Australia hold the edge


Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee saved the Old Trafford Test and gave Australia hope © Getty Images

Fresh from his matchsaving heroics with the bat at Old Trafford, Glenn McGrath had the wind back in his sails after a chastising week for Australian cricket, and has warned that the momentum of the Ashes series is back in Australia's hands after their wobbles in the last two matches.

"We haven't been on the top of our game and they were two matches England should have won very convincingly," McGrath told AFP on the morning after an epic finish to the Old Trafford Test. "Instead of that they've walked away having just scraped a win at Edgbaston and got a draw at Old Trafford.

"They must be wondering what they have to do to beat these guys," he added, "which I guess is good from our point of view because they are playing some very good cricket and we've got a bit of a way to go to improve.

"We've not been surprised by England," insisted McGrath, although he did concede that the team was disappointed with its form. "We knew they were a quality team and they've proven that over the last 18 months. I thought the Lord's Test was as well as we've played since we've been here and since then, for whatever reason, we haven't done it."

Both McGrath and Lee were rated as doubtful for the Old Trafford Test after respective ankle and knee injuries, but they combined for the final 24 deliveries of the match to thwart England's victory charge. McGrath, one of nature's No. 11s, was understandably thrilled to have come up trumps again - amazingly, he has yet to be dismissed this series.

"I've been into Ricky quite a bit this series about moving up [the order]," joked McGrath. "When I came off I actually asked the rest of the boys what it's like to get out in this series. I've been working pretty hard on my batting and I feel reasonably confident in the middle, which is something that's quite new to me.

"When I had the ankle operation I was probably having two sessions of batting a week just facing the bowling machine - I probably faced 500 balls a week and in the past 500 balls was probably two years worth of practice.

"When you start practising regularly you can improve and I feel comfortable with the technique I've got out there at the moment and I feel I'm watching it a lot better than I used to and the head's a lot stiller - it's amazing when you actually watch a ball you can actually see it a lot better."

Lee is also confident of producing an improved display at Trent Bridge having spent the build-up to Old Trafford in hospital for two nights being treated for an infection in his left knee.

"It wasn't the best preparation for a Test match, to have two nights in hospital and then basically come straight out, have a two-hour drive and then go straight into training and play the next day," added Lee, who still managed to claim five wickets in the match and survive for 44 minutes at the crease to save the match.

"I bowled 40 overs and I feel like I haven't even bowled a ball which is a really good sign. Maybe I was well rested from not having two days of training, but the body feels really good and the knee feels fantastic and it would be great now to fine tune it for this next Test coming up."